Feeling unsafe in the rain?

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smashed
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Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby smashed » Tue Oct 02, 2012 20:32 pm

I cycled home today in the rain and genuinely felt like I was risking my life.
I was on a road bike with 28 width tyres yet I felt extremely close to sliding off whenever I went over drain covers or poor road surfaces which felt like they were dragging me into the kerb from the slope. Wearing cleats means I cannot get my feet out either for balance or to avoid a dangerous fall if something does go wrong.
I slowed down my flat speed from around 22mph to 17 yet still felt unsafe on various roads that slope towards the kerb.. Other roads felt fine.
I had been about to replace the 28s with 23s so I could get mudguards on the bike but I would prefer a wet bum than a trip to the hospital or morgue.
I think I may need to get standard pedals and perhaps winter tyres and push myself closer to the centre of the road. Any advice or am I being a worry over nothing and that although it feels slippy it is unlikely to happen?

Arthur Scrimshaw
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby Arthur Scrimshaw » Tue Oct 02, 2012 20:49 pm

Some basic points, drains and manhole covers are like riding on ice in the wet so don't ride over them if at all possible. Same goes for painted road surfaces, patches of spilt diesel, roadkill, pedestrians etc.
Ride slower in the wet, expect brakes not to work especially well, or at least take a bit longer to become effective. I take it easier on roundabouts in the wet, this is where fuel often spills from lorries.
I would say this is a confidence issue but some tyres are bad in the wet. What are you running?

smashed
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby smashed » Tue Oct 02, 2012 21:05 pm

Thanks, they seem sensible suggestions. I guess peak time commuting in the rain just requires real careful cycling. Even going down the inside of a car, bus, van etc in heavy traffic nearly caught me out as the tyre followed the join between the tarmac and smooth tiling closer to the curb and you cannot get your feet out easy in cleats.

I think I have bontrager race lites but will check in the morning.

Arthur Scrimshaw
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby Arthur Scrimshaw » Tue Oct 02, 2012 21:18 pm

situations are different but I wouldn't normally ride down the inside of traffic, my first option when overtaking stationary traffic is the outside of them but keeping a lookout for cars cutting in front. I'd never ride up the inside of lorries/vans/buses (which can't see you) as you're asking for trouble, you've nowhere to go. Some of the recent fatalities in London have been as a result of this.
Re the cleats, can you back off the tension on the pedals?

Southgate
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby Southgate » Tue Oct 02, 2012 22:19 pm

With a few precautions and bit of common sense the chance of you slipping over in the wet is absolutely tiny.

1. Manhole covers and painted lines: Avoid 'em if you can, they are slippery as eels in the wet. If you take 'primary position' and control the road around you they are easier to avoid without swerving into traffic. If you have to ride over them, make sure the bike is as upright as possible, keep in a straight line and don't brake.

2. Tyres: The main thing is to replace the tyre when it wears, but do buy winter tyres if you want something more durable. I like Continental 4 Seasons, but your LBS should be able to advise you.

3. Speed: Slow down a bit as your brakes don't work as well in the wet, and be extra-alert for some drivers making dangerous maneuvers.

4. Cleats: Stick with 'em. They are not dangerous and you shouldn't ever need to unclip for "balance" or to avoid a "dangerous fall". In fact the only time you need to unclip is when you come to a stop, whether planned or in an emergency. Unclipping whilst the bike is in motion means you have lost control of the pedals and your speed, cannot distribute your weight across the bike or stand out of the saddle, and are therefore more unbalanced and more likely to fall off, not less. If you are having trouble unclipping in a hurry, you either need to loosen the tension a little or you just need more practice.

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gosport_commuter
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby gosport_commuter » Wed Oct 03, 2012 06:02 am

As above - move further out from the kerb, do NOT ride up the inside of traffic, and avoid drains etc! the rest is confidence.

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bails87
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby bails87 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:04 am

I'll second what's been said above. Don't squeeze down that gap down the left of buses and lorries, one day it will kill you!

Move out, onto the decent road surface.

Conti Gatorskins were very slippy when wet, I'm now using GP4Seasons which are much better.
MTB/CX

"As I said last time, it won't happen again."

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Initialised
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby Initialised » Wed Oct 03, 2012 22:48 pm

1: Don't ride in the gutter the puncture fairly live there and all the crap on the road that car tyres spray sideways ends up there. Ride in the dry line made by the left most tyres of the cars. This way you're far enough out they'll see you and have to overtake properly, you have room to manoeuvre around wet metal and you're on the bit of the road that should be driest.

2: Slow down for bends, I took a left hander to hard and went side ways at 20mph last January and am still getting physio for shoulder fracture and tissue damage. Clipped out before I hit the deck though.

3: Do some fast downhilling in cleats, on mud, gravel or grass, you'll soon learn to control the back end of your bike with your feet and balance to stay upright as it looses grip.

4: Get fatter or grippier tyres.

5: If you have disc brakes you can fit 26" wheels and possibly fatter tyres than you'd get away with on a 29"/700c rim.
I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.

chorlton chimp
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby chorlton chimp » Thu Oct 04, 2012 19:16 pm

Are you riding on SL's or SPD's? If SL's you could fit SPD/platform single siders for the winter and clip out when nervous and ride on the flats.

+1 for thr comments re riding in the 'swept' area. Feels odd at first but it's a sensible road position.

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Big_Paul
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby Big_Paul » Thu Oct 04, 2012 20:32 pm

I was a bit like you when I returned to cycling, I've ridden motorcycles for 20+ years so it seemed that a teeny little tyre with bugger all tread would grip in anything other than bone dry tarmac, now I know the reverse is true and manhole covers and diesel aside, I don't really pay much attention to the wet, I've had one "moment" involving grip in about my last 1000 odd miles of riding, and that was when I chucked my MTB into a corner on knobblies on damp tarmac, on my CX with 28mm slicks, I have no doubt it would have just went round the corner with no drama.

Get to know the smell of diesel, , in the rain it will leave a pretty rainbow but it can be like ice, it's not exactly great for grip in the dry either so if you catch a whiff, you know you need to take it easy.
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Big_Paul
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby Big_Paul » Thu Oct 04, 2012 20:32 pm

I was a bit like you when I returned to cycling, I've ridden motorcycles for 20+ years so it seemed that a teeny little tyre with bugger all tread would grip in anything other than bone dry tarmac, now I know the reverse is true and manhole covers and diesel aside, I don't really pay much attention to the wet, I've had one "moment" involving grip in about my last 1000 odd miles of riding, and that was when I chucked my MTB into a corner on knobblies on damp tarmac, on my CX with 28mm slicks, I have no doubt it would have just went round the corner with no drama.

Get to know the smell of diesel, , in the rain it will leave a pretty rainbow but it can be like ice, it's not exactly great for grip in the dry either so if you catch a whiff, you know you need to take it easy.
Disc Trucker
Kona Ute
Rockrider 8.1
Evil Resident
Vee-29
Day 01 Disc
Viking Derwent Tandem

smashed
Posts: 88
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby smashed » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:58 am

Thanks for all the advice.
My tyres were indeed Bontrager race lites.(http://road.cc/content/review/8825-bont ... 0x25c-tyre) The review suggests they should do the job.

My cleats are Look Keo Easy.

To clarify, I only went down the inside of traffic when it was all totally stationary in a queue for a long way ahead - I did not do that when traffic may start moving again. However, off the back of advice I am now overtaking on the outside, even in dry weather. :)

After cycling a bit more in the rain recently I realised that my concerns are definitely due to sloping roads that pull you right into the curb ( a couple of the long roads on my journey have an unusual camber which even pulls you in from 1 metre away), and also the grooves between road surfaces from previously laid tarmac off the back of roadwork etc...(e.g. it is fairly straight compared to my direction before it veers off and it is often difficult to avoid it).

Your advice has helped tho :D

OneForTheRoad
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Re: Feeling unsafe in the rain?

Postby OneForTheRoad » Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:43 am

Always look at and concentrate on the bit of the road you want to be on and NOT the bit you don't want to go near.

It's some sort of psychological thing I learnt when I used to go out on the MTB all the time. Instead of staring at the tree thinking don't hit it I changed to staring at the best path past it. It actually seems to work and I use this on the roads especially when cornering at speed.
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